I wonder, was the AP trying to be funny when they put together this story? The first paragraph is the best:
“The U.S. military said Thursday it would release five Iraqi women detainees, a move demanded by the kidnappers of an American reporter to spare her life. A U.S. official said the release had nothing to do with the kidnappers' demand.”I’m sure it was just a happy coincidence. It’s certainly not the product of any kind of negotiation or anything. No, we don’t negotiate with terrorists. The timing is…convenient, that’s all.
So if we’re not caving into terrorist demands, why are we releasing these women prisoners? The second paragraph has the reasoning:
“The women will be freed Thursday and Friday as part of a release of 419 Iraqis to be freed after officials concluded there was no reason to keep holding them, said Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill, spokesman for the U.S. detention command.”Great. 419 new former detainees, all apparently innocent, released out into the world. I cheer their freedom, but I also fear for the unintended consequences.
There’s a sociological tendency, not a fact, just a trend, which remains just a tendency until you give it a name, and since I’m not sure if this tendency has been studied or even noticed by academia, I’ll have to give it my own name. Let’s call it “creating a demographic” for lack of a better term. Certain events, large and small, are so significant that they create a collective bond, a demographic so to speak, in individuals who experience them. The 9-11 families would be an example, Holocaust survivors, the WWII “Greatest Generation, each a demographic united by the same traumatic experience.
The individuals in these groups tend to empathize with each other, feeling a brotherhood with those who went through similar ordeals. They view their own subjective experiences in the context of the larger event, and even if they didn’t get blown to smithereens landing on Omaha Beach they know what it could have felt like because they were there. Never estimate the power of I was there too.
And that’s why I’m concerned about these 419 detainees, who apparently weren’t terrorists and did nothing wrong. Now free, they are part of the “Iraqi Detainees” demographic, plugged into all the worst experiences of Abu Ghraib and the rest. Even if they were treated well, wined and dined like dignitaries, they will view their experience in the context of torture and abuse. They will empathize with those who were beaten and killed by their American captors because they too were held in American detention. It has the potential to galvanize them against us, making efforts to rebuild somewhat difficult. If this were just a handful of detainees, I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad. But it’s 419 of them.
Perhaps it’s time to be more discriminating with who we are rounding up.